Lawyers for residents of Kuntunse in the Ga West Municipality, have threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within 14-days, if it fails to take the necessary steps to halt the unlawful operations of a tomato factory in the area.
The EPA shut down the Happy Sunshine Tomato factory which is managed by some Chinese expatriates, after a series of Citi News reports had revealed that the company was operating illegally in the residential area.
[contextly_sidebar id=”OM9hxi2JOd9m69OZwD8cNfNRx5PDCId8″]A notice of closure was posted on the doors and walls of the factory after officials of the EPA, accompanied by the police went to the premises.
Illegal Chinese tomato factory operating again with DCE’s backing
However, despite the order from the EPA and complaints from the residents, the factory has reopened and is operating again, with the tacit support of the Ga West Municipal Assembly led by the District Chief Executive, Clement Wilkinson.
A letter addressed to the Executive Director of EPA asked the Authority to take swift actions to halt the operations of the factory within 14 days or face a lawsuit.
“Please take the necessary steps to proactively halt the operations of the company forthwith in the swift manner demonstrated in the Exton Cubic matter when bauxite was to be mined at Nyinayin without EPA permit. Please take notice that if within 14 days upon receipt of this letter you fail in your duty, a court action will be brought against you,” the letter from the lawyer, Alexander Afenyo Markin said.
Factory shut down, asked to relocate
The EPA had earlier held a closed-door meeting with the management of the factory where the company was directed to move its operations to an industrial area, as their current location has not been zoned for such activities.
The Principal Programmes Officer at the Accra Regional office of the EPA, Sophia Vanderpuye, who confirmed the directive to Citi News said: “At the meeting, it was made very clear to them that the site where they are operating is not appropriate for the kind of manufacturing activity that is going on there is wrong. We had got evidence of the thick smoke that was emanating from their chimneys into the atmosphere, and with the accompanying noise issues. Based on these, they were made to understand that the EPA cannot permit such an activity in a predominately residential area so they have to relocate.”
“They must find an appropriate location, most preferably, an industrial area where they can conveniently produce. The Assemblies have already zoned the areas.”The tomato factory was fined GHc 15,000 by the EPA in August 2017 for operating illegally, whilst the company was also ordered to halt any form of production.
However, the management of the factory violated that order and resumed full production in November.
Residents at Korleman City, an estate at Kuntunse in the Ga West Municipality, where the Chinese factory operates, had raised concerns about how the activities of the company were affecting their health.
By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana